Thursday, August 21, 2008

Grilled Pork Shoulder Braciole

Braciole on the Grill? Braciole made with Pork? Yes, yes, and it is an interesting recipe from Mario Batali. This is what Mom requested for her birthday meal. The rest of the spread was comprised of green beans with summer savory..a wonderful herbal addition to the meal, a nutty and tangy orzo and chickpea salad with olive tapenade and just the right touch of lemon, and luscious panzanella (one of the perks of a mid-August birthday is the bounty of tomatoes).

The pork shoulder is pounded out, just like traditional braciole. The filling is made of bread crumbs, salami (we used finnochiona), orange zest, parsley, mint, romano, and olive oil. I used a few TBS more then what the recipe called for and then wished I has used even more. I think I might also in the future put in just one TBS of fresh squeezed orange juice for a little more moisture.

If you follow Mario's instructions on a charcoal grill you will have incinerated rolls. Even with the coals at a "medium high" heat it's tricky to not dry these out, plus pork shoulder is pretty fatty, so there were a lot of flame ups, causing some of the braciole to become blackened. I followed the recipe mostly, halving the times over direct heat and indirect heat and we still had rolls that were too dry. Also, I'm not sure why the recipe calls to cook to an internal temp of 185. Trichinosis dies at 140, which is when I took our braciole off the grill, and they were MORE than cooked through.

Overall, they were tasty. I really like the idea of salami as a braciole filling, and the fennel in the one we used was well complemented by the orange and mint. We had no leftovers, but we all agreed they were too dry and needed a little tinkering.

Think about it...beef braciole is from a tough cut of meat too. But it is simmered in moisture-ful tomato sauce. To cook a tough cut like pork shoulder in a dry method over even medium heat for more than a couple minutes would of course be overkill and drying.

My plan for this recipe in the future is: Grill briefly to sear the outside (I'll be using my trusty Lodge Cast-Iron Grill Pan), then place in a skillet and finish in the oven at 300 until done. Remove and use skillet to make a pan sauce with shallots, white wine and orange juice. I'm thinking to also mount a little butter in the sauce, but Mom thinks that would be overkill. Thanks to my brother-in-law Mark for the awesome photographs with his new spiffy camera.

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